Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ten Years

It was on this date in 2004 when I received the phone call advising me that my mother was in a terrible car accident.

I was in Winchester, VA, conducting a Project CRISS training, just as I am on this very day in 2014.

Unfortunately for Mother, and for all of us who loved and knew her, the accident left her badly injured and with irreversible brain damage. She held on for a little over six years, well cared for in a nursing facility in our home county.

She passed away in January 2011, and I miss her still.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Meal No. 1101: Country Ham, Rice, & Biscuits

Sometimes you've just gotta have breakfast for dinner, as was the case for me last night:

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Meal No. 1100: Pasta with Sausage, Mustard, & Basil

The Saturday night meal at the Roediger House was pasta with hot Italian sausage, mustard, and basil. This was my first use of Orechiette pasta, and (interestingly!) the package did NOT specify the length of time to boil the pasta. Weird. It just said: "...to desired tenderness." I fell a bit short on that, as I discovered once I started eating it. But it was still really good.

I've had this recipe in my clipping collection for quite a while, and frankly I don't think I've ever made it. It's speedy and easy enough that I need to add this to the "I-just-drove-in-from-Virginia" list of meals I can prepare quickly after a long day of work and a long drive home.

"Pasta with Sausage, Basil, and Mustard," by Nigel Slater and published in Food & Wine, September 2002.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Meal No. 1099: Peanut Butter Bacon Burgers

For several years, I had the pleasure to work with the faculty and leadership at a charter school in New Orleans where my friend and former Wake Forest grad student Tim Schwarz was on staff. Tim was always fantastic about planning the evenings as well as he planned for his instructional coaching of teachers, and he knew how to make sure I got the full measure of available excellent and unique eateries in that wonderful city. We rarely ventured into the French Quarter, but I'm glad he made an exception so that we could hit Yo Mama's where the recommended specialty was peanut butter bacon burgers.

Let's just say I had to learn how to make 'em for myself once I got back home, and it is not uncommon for guests of the RoHo to demand them and then to marvel that they could be so good.

It felt like it had been a while since I threw this amazing concoction onto the table at dinner time, and it's just too unique and good to be left out of some sort of regular rotation of meals at the Roediger House. I brought it back last night and found that the small crew who gathered were pleased at the results while being simultaneously daunted by the sheer height of the stack of goodness therein.

A review of key points about peanut butter bacon burgers:
  • Inspired by Yo Mama's in the French Quarter of New Orleans
  • First Made: Meal No. 180
  • Last Made: Meal No. 1028
  • Homemade Peanut Butter
  • Fresh-Ground Beef from boneless beef short ribs and top sirloin
  • Homemade Classic Burger Sauce (recipe below)
  • Labeled Finished Burger: Guide to Meal No. 234
  • Some guidance, inspiration, and tips are based on Cook's Illustrated, No. 93 (July/August 2008), p. 10.

Classic Burger Sauce
from Cook's Illustrated, July-August 2008, p. 11.
4 T mayonnaise
2 T ketchup
1 tsp sweet pickle relish
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Meal No. 1098: Salmon Tacos

Last night I tried something that's not really my usual thing: a spin on fish tacos that featured marinated and roasted salmon. And I served them on flour tortillas, so maybe it's not right to refer to them as tacos. But they are meant to be in the vein of fish tacos, which I have never in my life ever ordered at any restaurant anywhere anytime.

I got the sauce a bit too spicy, but I thought it was all mighty good.

"Grilled Fish Tacos with Chipotle-Lime Dressing," from mabcat on AllRecipes.com.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Meal No. 1097: Biscuits -N- Sausage Gravy

Last night, after a good and challenging day of work in the county next door, I was okay with a non-taxing evening meal: some good ol' biscuits and sausage gravy. Two tall glasses of orange juice and I was all satisfied.

Yesterday was also the starting point for Clemmons Flooring, LLC, to tackle refinishing the floors in the master bedroom. I had to miss all that while I was away working, but when I saw it this morning (after sanding and with a primer and seal coat), it looked fantastic. It's only going to get better over the next three days as Ricky and Nubee apply successive coats of poly to it.

I suppose I'll have to wait until I get back into town at the end of next week before I can move furniture back in, and then it will still need about three weeks to finish curing before I can put the rug down and feel truly moved back into that space. It's been interesting sleeping in the front parlour, but I'm lucky to live in a house where there's room to shift things around.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Meal No. 1096: Lamb Meatloaf with Smashed Sweet Potatoes

This past Sunday night was planned to be dinner with two first cousins on my mother's side of the family: Marilyn and Carla. We'd caught up with one another for a brief visit a week ago, out at Tate's Craft Cocktails, and that's when we made these Roediger House dinner plans so that we could talk without yelling over live jazz. But it turns out we got our wires all crossed: Carla's already on her way back to New York and Marilyn had a brutal day of traveling home from a retreat and then doing a continuing ed class over in Greensboro.

But the guys on the plaster crew the next morning seemed grateful for my cousins' absence, because that meant there were leftovers with their names on them.

"Lamb and Multi-Mushroom Meat Loaf" (p. 150) and "Smashed Sweet Potatoes" (p. 128), in Tupelo Honey Cafe: Spirited Recipes from Asheville's New South Kitchen, by Elizabeth Sims with Chef Brian Sonoskus. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, 2011.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Meal No. 1095: Chicken Tikka Masala

This past Saturday night, I tried out a "weeknight" version of what is usually the more involved dish known as Chicken Tikka Masala. While the result was quite good, it doesn't mean I'll always shy away from the complicated version that's been so good in the past. But I'm glad to know that a meal like this can be made without a huge investment of time and foodstuffs.

Alongside, some cumin and coriander-roasted cauliflower and naan.

"Chicken Tikka Masala," from Cook's Country, October/November 2014, centerfold recipe cards.

"Roasted Cauliflower," from Cuisine at Home, Issue 85/February 2011, p. 15.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Meal No. 1094: Glorious Beef and Mushroom Stir-Fry

Normally I think the stir-fry meals I make at home are pretty darned good, but this past Friday night, I thought it was lacking a bit in flavor. It wasn't for lack of trying, and I liked the kicked-up heat that came from using a fresh pepper brought by plaster master David Mearns.

"Glorious Beef with Mushrooms," in Wok Fast by Hugh Carpenter and Teri Sandison. Ten Speed Press, 2002, p. 87 (recipe) and p. 26-27 (marinade and sauce).

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Meal No. 1093: Hamburger Supreme

This past week was my first full week back at work after a three-week end-of-summer hiatus, and perhaps my energy had begun to flag, because I went super-simple and easy for Thursday night's dinner. It was the Jones family favorite of hamburger supreme, based on a recipe we got from Glynn Johnson, my sister's former mother-in-law. It's pretty hard to beat.

"Hamburger Supreme," from the late Mrs. John T. (Glynn) Johnson of Buies Creek, North Carolina, via Janice Jones Bodenhamer.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Meal No. 1092: Deviled Chicken Thighs

Haven't made this version of crispy seasoned baked chicken in a while, and it usually works best with drumsticks. However, sometimes it's also just perfect for thighs, and that was the case this past Wednesday night.

"Deviled Chicken Drumsticks," by Ian Knauer. In Gourmet, August 2008.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Meal No. 1091: Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

Thanks to the fresh garden-grown tomatoes brought by plaster guru Philip Lamachio, the spaghetti and meat sauce this past Monday night was tons better.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Meal No. 1090: Smoothies and Cheese Grits

This past Sunday's gathering to watch Doctor Who was accompanied by a simple breakfast for the crew: smoothies and cheese grits.

Cheese Grits made using recipe for Creamy Grits, from Luquire Family Stone Ground Grits, milled in Greenwood, SC.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Meal No. 1089: Birthday Beef Tenderloin

For me, a nice way to celebrate my birthday is to cook a favorite meal and to enjoy the company of some good friends. That's the way things played out last Saturday at the Roediger House, and we ate ourselves into a great food stupor.

Roasted Beef Tenderloin

Wine Sauce with onion, garlic, thyme, and mushroom
Stuffed Twice-Baked Potatoes

Layered Green Bean Casserole

A special brew brought by a guest

The loaded dinner plate.

A hastily-frosted chocolate buttercream mocha cake.


"Beef Tenderloin in Wine Sauce" (p. 296) and "Spicy Horseradish Sauce" (p. 295) from The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook. Compiled and Edited by Julie Fisher Gunter. Oxmoor Press (2006).

"Layered Green Bean Casserole," from my sister Allison in Rossville, Indiana.

"Stuffed Potatoes: Good/Better/Best," in Cuisine at Home, December 2006, p. 23-24. [Recipe Clipping]

"Mocha Buttercream Chocolate Espresso Cake," from Nestlé Toll House's Very Best Baking Website.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Meal No. 1088: 2 x 2 Soup

Because the Mearns brothers worked so long and hard and late last Thursday afternoon to get the master bedroom finished, I figured they were owed some sort of extra treat this past Friday. So my early endeavors in the kitchen resulted in a batch of Cap'n Crunch cookies:

Then, for dinner, I went with my cousin Betsy's recipe for something she calls 2 x 2 soup. The chill temps at the end of last week made it seem like a mighty fitting choice for that Friday night.

I also managed to try out a new dessert recipe: cheesecake rice pudding. It's rich but man-o-man, is it also quite tasty.

"2 x 2 Soup," from various sources.

"Cap'n Crunch Cookies," found online at The Capitol Baker, with credit going to The Sugar Plum Blog for inspiration and the source of the adapted recipe.

"Cheesecake Rice Pudding," from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Meal No. 1087: Miso-Glazed Roasted Salmon

Last Thursday, a return to that delicious miso-mirin-ginger-glazed roasted salmon, this time with sweet potatoes and broccoli on the side.

"Miso-Glazed Salmon Steaks," from Bon Appétit, May 2011, p. 58.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Meal No. 1086: Bama Chicken

Years ago, my sister Allison shared with me a simple casserole that she called "Bama Chicken." Other folks call it poppyseed chicken.

I just call it good. That's what was served up last Wednesday night at the Roediger House.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Meal No. 1085: Pipetizer Casserole

I remain several days behind still on blogging, and for now, that means I'm catching up on recent meals prepared here at the Roediger House. In my obsession to blog every day, and having gotten trapped into the habit of numbering the meals since the first one made in the kitchen addition completed in 2009, this now takes us up to Meal Number 1085: Pipetizer Casserole. That's what was served up this past Tuesday night.

It is named in honor of friend and former neighbor Jon Piper, who (together with his wife Karissa) was responsible for alerting me to the Roediger House when it was put up for sale. When I found myself terrified that the work to be done on this great old place would overwhelm me, they gently took me by the hand and led me to see all that's wonderful about the RoHo. I overcame my fear and aggressively bid to win in the competition to buy the house, and I was ultimately successful.

When Jon was in town on business a few years ago, he sampled only a mere portion of this casserole on its inaugural appearance on a Roediger House menu (because he had a business dinner to go to), and we dubbed it a "pipetizer-size" portion, and that name stuck.

The above picture, by the way, is on the Chinet plates when I was setting up leftovers to serve to the guys from Estate Plaster, Inc., the next day. That's because I did a rare act of forgetting when it was time to photograph dinner as it was served. I do, however, have a picture of the bowl I managed to break when I was cleaning up from supper:

"Pipetizer Casserole" is an adaptation of "Tailgate Casserole," from The Big Book of Casseroles, by Maryana Vollstedt. San Francisco: Chronicle Books (2000), p. 120.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Much Sweeter Master Suite

While I find myself behind on blogging recent meals (that chronic and debilitating obsession that I seem to have), I've got to put that aside out of sheer wonder and excitement now that the master bedroom has been completed by Estate Plaster, Inc.

I blogged about this room five or six weeks ago, and included some pictures of what it looked like when I first bought the house.

As of yesterday afternoon, the plaster restoration and repair and painting has all been completed, and I'm pretty darned psyched about the result.

Here's your very own pictorial journey through selected elements of the process:

A few days prior to the beginning of plaster restoration...

...with the room all cleared out and ready for the guys.

Philip Lamachio and David Mearns prep the room.

Problem areas are identified and weak plaster is removed.

At some point in the past, the ceiling was replaced with drywall.
But it wasn't well secured.

I can't believe I've slept for over 10 years in a room in this condition
(looks worse now that they've begun scraping, of course).

This house is almost 110 years old. And looks it.

Philip removing weak plaster.

Screened and skimmed and ceiling anchored.

David Mearns has been joined on the project by his older brother Richie.

Another progress shot.

Richie inspecting the caulking along the trim.
Notice two color samples behind him.

Look at this stunningly gorgeous room!

They did an incredible job on it.

The walls are painted in "Aurora Brown," and
it is a sort of maroon-y brown, and it
can even look like a very deep purple.

Next up: refinishing these rough floors!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Meal No. 1084: Indiana Corn & Potato Chowder

Ladies and gentlemen: behold the corn chowder, this amazing concoction that always makes an impression on my none-too-discerning palate. I feel like it's getting better and better with each trial, and this past Monday night, when the dinner menu was composed only of this, I was certain that even two full bowls of it were not enough. I went to bed still wanting more. It's that good. Even with my forgetting to put the diced chicken in it (which the recipe does not call for).

Also, on Monday, this happened:

Philip Lamachio of Estate Plaster has begun the tedious and delicate work of ceiling repair and restoration in the plaster relief of the front entryway. More updates to follow.

"Indiana Corn and Potato Chowder," by Brannon Soileau of Maize, An American Grill (formerly of Lafayette, IN). In Indiana Cooks!, by Christine Barbour and Scott Feickert with photographs by Tom Stio. Bloomington, IN: Quarry Books (2005), p. 64-65. Recipe originally shared with me by my sister Allison on December 31, 2006. You can find this, and quite a few other Indiana recipes, if you scroll to the bottom of this article: "Indiana Can Cook."